my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?

8.27.2005

TransPacific Flight, 1956

How much can a five year old remember?

I remember the stewardess in her blue suit, hat and heels walking down the aisle, reaching over my father to offer me the white square of gum, explaining I was supposed to chew it as the plane climbed into the air.

I remember the terrifying sound of the engines, and looking out the cabin window to see the props start up and soon whir so fast I couldn't see them anymore. I remember grabbing Daddy's hand when the noise got so loud, I was afraid the plane would explode. Then the plane's slow walk, then race down the runway. The lurch of liftoff.

Initial fascination as I watched the ground fly down and away, things growing smaller and smaller until they were patchwork and then the plane facing out over a vast blanket of blue, the Pacific.

The hours of tedium, after the excitement of getting my own flight bag, and slippers, and wings. The steady drone and sleeping, sleeping. Waking to eat and walk down the narrow aisle with my mother to the tiny bathroom. The coloring book and crayons. Packing everything back into my blue bag and sleeping some more.

Eventually landing in Honolulu. Groggy, so tired. But I remember the scent of the leis that greeters draped over me, and even over my two year old brother. Maybe some hours of sleep, I don't remember.

Then another plane. And another landing, at Midway. Or was it Wake? Maybe Guam. The plane puddle jumped across the Pacific.

I don't remember climbing into the last plane for the final flight into Manila, I was so anesthetized with fatigue. But I remember being carried off the plane when we landed at Clark Field, into that hot, sweaty night, into that strange place -- the Philippines -- my new home.

This happened forty-nine years ago.

10 Comments:

Blogger schnoodlepooh said...

What an adventure for a little kid. Flying has really changed since then. I think I was 21 the first time I got on an airplane. Wheee... I used to like it. Now they scare me silly.

11:53 PM

 
Blogger Bela said...

Such a cute post! I was 17 when I flew for the first time - on my own, but in the care of one of the flight attendants, as I was a minor. I never was very keen on airplanes and now, just like schnoodlepooh, I'm scared of even getting near an airport.

6:46 AM

 
Blogger AP3 said...

Great post!

You've captured the "good ol' days" of flying very well. There used to be a lot more "glamor" in the friendly skies, I think. The movie Catch Me If You Can captured that really well, too.

8:18 AM

 
Blogger still life said...

What a wonderful memory. My father was in the military so we traveled quite a bit. I remember it as a time when people still dressed up to take a flight (any excuse to wear my patent leather mary janes). My mother carried a blue samsonite hardcase cosmetic bag...it all seemed very glamorous.
I was a flight attendant for Eastern for a short while, it would be a nice thought if I could have helped to create such a lasting memory for someone.

9:40 AM

 
Blogger katiedid said...

What a wonderful vignette from your life. Thanks for sharing that. So fascinating to see times passed through the eyes of a child, and you captured that well.

2:39 PM

 
Blogger Tania said...

My daddy was probably in Guam—you flew right over him. :)

6:50 PM

 
Blogger mireille said...

Small strange world, huh, T?

6:57 PM

 
Blogger Tania said...

Yes on both counts!

8:17 AM

 
Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

WOW! I have goose bumps. Don't know why, but this is so impressive to me! How amazing it was to fly in those days.
I flew a short distance in a sea plane at age 15. From L.A. to Catalina Island. We landed on the water. The flight was so short I have no memory of it really, but I remember the landing. Scary.

9:25 AM

 
Anonymous neko said...

I find it funny that so many people have a fear of flying. Though I suppose it puzzles me more that my brother, who has a fear of heights, became a pilot.

I had my first ride in an airplane with him when he was still training. I don't remember how old I was but I remember opening the cockpit and throwing scraps of aviation notes out into (hopefully) empty fields below. I was less keen on practicing stalling the plane, however. We landed in a the hot dry desert east of the mountains and drank bad coffe in the lounge.

Because of my brother and our flights I always have a warm feeling mixed with the trepidation of travel when I step on the plane. If only everyone could have a pilot in the family.

8:46 AM

 

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